Calling all sociologists …
Here is where the sociology comes in. The motif of a superior officer given unexpected priority repeats a pattern I’ve noticed in my admittedly limited experience of Japanese crime stories. In Akira Kurosawa’s movie Stray Dog, the senior officer, played by Takashi Shimura, guides the junior, played by Toshiro Mifune, investigating with him, interrogating with him, and keeping him in line. If my memory serves me well, a senior officer also plays an especially prominent role in at least one of Seicho Matsumoto’s novels as well.
These instances all seemed a contrast to what I'm accustomed to, in which a police novel has one lead investigator. In the case of The Informer, the contrast with American and British police procedurals seemed especially marked. In murder mysteries from the U.K. or America, if any police are named as appearing on the scene before the lead homicide investigator, they are likelier to be of lower rank, a patrolman or a constable, rather than higher.
Your job, readers, is to help me figure out if this means anything and, if so, what? Does it reflect differences between Japanese and Western police procedures? Differences in the way Japanese storytellers think about authority? Is it even typical of Japanese stories at all, or is it just a quirk of the few that I know?
© Peter Rozovsky 2007
Japanese crime fiction
Asian crime fiction